Everything I'm reading... even Larry Bird quotes... have the Pacers as "likely" losers in this round. The team has to be loving this! You could not fly under the radar any more than they are right now.
I will be the first to admit, this team has had major ups and downs this season, and truly looks like a team that barely made the playoffs. I also firmly believe they have been on a major learning curve, and are arriving at this very moment.
Of all the playoff teams out there, this team has had BY FAR the most volatility, with two coaches and an absurd number of lineups. It's easy to argue this team has had two completely different halves of the season, and the second half was probably more challenging than the first, yet they finished with a winning record (second half). In that period of time they demonstrated growth the entire way, and while playing abysmally in some games, they gutted up and showed up later.
Now, I might forgive some of the pundits if they predicted 6 games to Chicago, but I think they did Chicago a big disservice by predicting 5 games or even a sweep of the series. I have a hunch the Pacers are now about to stun the world.
Do you remember that team that Vogel took over and briefly became the hottest team in the league? We are about to see them return. They were hit with adversity, stumbled, learned to deal, hit some more bumps, learned to deal, and while this series no doubt will go to 6 or 7 games.... you will be seeing another 8th seed upset added to NBA lore.
The world has forgotten about Pacer prominence, dismissed a small-market team, and underestimated an organization from Larry Bird to Danny Granger. Oh how people's memories run short. Count my words, this team just arrived, and will let everybody know in a few days.